This article considers the freedom of religion and belief (“free exercise”) in two secular federal constitutional democracies: India and Australia. Both constitutional systems emerged from the former British Empire and both continue in membership of the Commonwealth of Nations, which succeeded it. However, the similarities end there, for while both separate church and state, and protect free exercise, they do so in very different ways. On the one hand, the Indian Constitution contains express provisions which comprehensively deal with free exercise. On the other hand, while one finds what might appear a protection for free exercise in the Australian Constitution, that protection is far from comprehensive. Instead, unlike its Indian counterpart, the Australian federal democracy depends upon a piecemeal collection of Constitutional, legislative, and common law provisions which, when taken together, seem to achieve plenary protection for free exercise. Still, while India protects free exercise within a comprehensive constitutional framework, and while Australia does so in a disjointed and fragmentary way, both arrive at the same place: a constitutionalism characterized by secularism/separation of church and state combined with a corresponding comprehensive protection for free exercise.
Recommended CitationPaul T. Babie and Arvind P. Bhanu, Freedom of Religion and Belief in India and Australia: An Introductory Comparative Assessment of Two Federal Constitutional Democracies, 39 Pace L. Rev. 1 (2018)
Available at: https://digitalcommons.pace.edu/plr/vol39/iss1/1